New York Times house conservative David Brooks has won a lot of plaudits from the left for describing President Trump's budget thusly: "He wants to cut any part of government that may seem soft and nurturing, like poverty programs. He wants to cut any program that might seem emotional and airy-fairy, like the National Endowment for the Arts. He wants to cut any program that might seem smart and nerdy, like the National Institutes of Health. But he wants to increase funding for every program that seems manly, hard, muscular and ripped, like the military and armed antiterrorism programs. Indeed, the Trump budget looks less like a political philosophy and more like a sexual fantasy." That's entirely accurate, of course, but, ah, read the whole column in which this insight appears, which is called "Let Bannon Be Bannon!" It's bad enough that Mr. Brooks thinks that Mr. Bannon is a populist, that he has a coherent governing philosophy, that a coherent governing philosophy is automatically superior to governing by the seat of your pants, and that Mr. Trump is actually governing by the seat of his pants. But, really, would Steve Bannon have come up with something more nurturing than the "hard power" budget? I suspect the next houseplant that man grows will be his first. And I bet he tries to make it grow faster by yelling at it.
Cracked columnist Christina H. writes about "What Changed My Mind" about being a "Hardcore Conservative," by which she means she used to be a stereotypical far right-winger who'd call Democrats "Demoncrats" and assume that liberals were all oversexed. Her condemnation of Hollywood on that last notion (among so many others!) is entirely appropriate, but here's the sentence you really need to attend: "(w)e all know nobody likes to admit they are wrong, but did you know nobody likes to admit they were until very recently wrong?" And thus she reminds us that usually we change our worldview far enough out of sight that we can hide it, if only to save our own egos. She also reminds us that conversations we overhear are more likely to change us than conversations we've invested ourselves in, that the stories we tell while we're just shooting the breeze do a lot more to change us than well-constructed arguments do, and that the folks "on your side" can do more to change you than the folks "on the other side," which is true even though it's regrettable that we describe folks in terms of "sides" at all. This is all important information -- it may even be enough to make you feel comfortable with the idea that you do your best and God does the rest.
Matt Harbowy at Medium writes "On Transgendered Bathrooms -- Or, as Most People Call Them, 'Bathrooms.'" I think he's actually quite generous to say that the brouhaha over transgendered folks in bathrooms derives, at the legislative level, from "the fears and tortured psyches of legislators trying to 'imagine' (since they typically have no direct experience with homosexuals of either gender) what it means if you put either homosexual or transgendered individuals into...the single gendered bathroom of their own childhood" -- I say "generous" because I tend more toward thinking these legislators are merely manipulative and heartless. But it's true that gendered bathrooms at schools are little more than "an opportunity for male bullies to be out of the watchful eye of mostly female teachers and supervisors," and it's also true that converting multi-urinal and multi-stall gendered bathrooms into single-stall/single-urinal non-gendered water closets would pretty much end the controversy. I think this idea (which would only be marginally less "efficient" than gendered bathrooms are now, especially when these are hardly ever filled to capacity) is exactly the kind of thinking this country needs -- though our political class wouldn't want it, since the result would be less drama, not more.
Finally, I wasn't waiting for this, but Hillary Clinton says she's "ready to come out of the woods" after her Election Day loss to Donald Trump -- and of course she's preaching about Americans finding common ground. The Clintons virtually invented the sport of Democrats and Republicans coming together to give Republicans whatever they want, so one could be excused, I think, for feeling something less than enthusiasm at this prospect. Besides, we not only can "ignore, or turn a cold shoulder to someone because they disagree with us politically," we must -- shame and ostracization are the tools of civilized people, even if some folks wield them in an uncivilized manner. Still, as it happens, Americans do have a lot of common ground: we like privacy, we like our right to dissent, we like good pay for hard work, we like clean air and clean water, we like not dying from health care problems, we like good government programs that deliver what they promise for our taxes -- and we hate corporate crime, media consolidation, media sensationalism, and "free" trade deals that let corporations outsource our jobs and nullify our laws. Of course, none of this lends itself well to a "bipartisan" "consensus" among Our Glorious Elites who only want to redistribute more of our wealth upward to themselves.